Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 86

Minsk authorities yesterday imposed on the Soros Foundation’s Belarus branch a $3 million fine for alleged tax evasion. The foundation has officially been tax-exempt since 1995 in Belarus, as it is in the other countries in which it operates for the advancement of an open society. The fine equals half of the foundation’s 1996 spending in Belarus. The foundation’s American director was recently expelled from Belarus. (Belapan, April 30)

On orders from President Aleksandr Lukashenko, the Belarusan Security Council last month began a campaign against foreign charitable organizations as well as NGOs and their Belarusan affiliates. The preferred method appears to consist of financial investigations which profess to find irregularities. The Children of Chornobyl foundation, which has played a major role in promoting public health and ecological programs in Belarus, is similarly being persecuted. The aim is to force a closure of these organizations in Belarus and to isolate the country from the West.

To help prevent that, U.S. ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz is returning to Belarus today with a mandate to "intensify relations with Belarusan society and with people interested in democracy, reforms, and human rights," the U.S. State Department announced. The European Union’s Council of Foreign Ministers in turn warned yesterday that the EU will not cooperate with the government unless it ends political repression and negotiates with the legitimate parliament. (Western agencies, April 30)

Tajik Opposition Disavows Assassination Attempt on Rahmonov.